How Can Stress Elevate Stomach Ulcers And How Critical They Can Become?

Stress or anxiety has become a way of life for humans now. Stressed persons may spend sleepless nights, lose appetite, throw temper tantrums, and mess with profession, relations and even themselves. The greatest damage might be done to the self, both mentally and physically. Extreme stress and tension toss the normal health and functioning of the body and the person becomes a victim of multiple chronic diseases.

Effect on the digestive system

Food is one of the basic necessities for living and hence, the digestive system too, where food is converted into the essential energy. One of the critical conditions caused by stress affecting the stomach is stress-induced gastritis or stress-related erosive syndrome a beneficial surgical procedure . It is also referred to as stress ulcer syndrome and stress-related mucosal disease. The condition is caused by inflammations of the stomach lining and mucosal erosions and superficial hemorrhages in the stomach and digestive organs in persons under extreme physiologic stress. The disease results in blood loss from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and if unattended can lead to blood transfusion.

Endoscopic procedures confirm the diagnosis of stress ulcer syndrome when the clinical symptoms are present.

Clinical symptoms

A stress-induced ulcer can have the following clinical manifestations:

  • Indigestion and recurring stomach upset
  • Abdominal bloating and pain
  • Nausea
  • Burning or gnawing sensation in the stomach and GI tract
  • Coffee ground vomitus in which vomit appears like ground coffee due to the presence of oxidized red blood cells from the GI bleeding.
  • Melena or blackened, tarry stools with blood.
  • Extreme cases may have vomiting of bright red blood, known as Hematemesis (signaling acute stomach bleeding)
  • A rare symptom is an orthostatic or postural hypotension.

Physical Risk factors

Patients with the following health conditions are more prone to have stress-induced ulcer:

  • Severe injury caused by fire
  • Head injury and high intracranial pressure
  • Sepsis
  • Severe trauma
  • Failure of multiple organs

Thus, having a stress-free and healthy mind is the key to having a healthy body.